How to make death a love project is quite a question at the moment. Mourners can’t be physically close up. In hospitals there are tough restrictions on visitor admission. It’s really difficult, and yet I’d like to highlight in this post that thinking and talking about how to make death the best love project possible, will make a difference.
There’s great sadness when saying goodbye to someone you love at any time. Now conditions have changed suddenly and people report the loss of ritual grieving, alongside the losses and grief of the death. There’s loss of contact, loss of comfort, loss of community and loss of warmth. How to make the best of this reality?
In my guide, ‘Death, a love project‘ a key message is that it’s somewhat easier to bear loss when the person who is dying has spelled out to family and friends what they would like to happen. To do this entails thinking ahead and putting your wishes on paper. Doing this is especially valuable now, in relation to future health care and to the kind of send off that would be suit you.
Death, a love project: what do you want at end of life?
Now it’s more important than ever to clarify what future treatment would be your preference, and to have a clear understanding between you and your medical treatment decision-maker. We’re in a time of uncertainty. There are different circumstances than before if you have to be in hospital, especially with a critical condition. You may have seen this New York Times article which states bluntly: ‘we should not be discussing our loved one’s wishes for the first time when they are in an ICU bed, voiceless and pinned in place by machines and tubes.’
Writing an advance care directive and choosing a medical treatment decision-maker is a way in which you can take practical control. Consult your doctor. Talk with a friend who has theirs in place. I’d be happy to meet with you on zoom. In Melbourne’s inner north we have the women-led Nest Legal which can make an advance care directive part of its package when you do a will.
As a start, you could be quite old school about it and write a letter.
Whatever your age and stage it’s good to get something on paper. It will help you. It will help others. Here are forms and resources. I hope that at the moment you can find the focus to consider your wishes with others, write them down, and share your thoughts in conversations with family and friends.
The reality is that bereavement looks very different when the family is alive to a person’s preferences around treatment. In these times this means getting clear on whether you would want to have treatment in ICU or time on a ventilator, or less intervention.
Death, a love project: what kind of send off?
In ‘Death, a love project’ I suggest that:
- Support in planning and creating will make a real difference to the rituals that help with your grieving. At a time when we’re experiencing such distance between us, planning can be difficult. Please get in touch if you’d like my help with this.
- There’s great value in holding multiple or successive events to say goodbye when you’ve lost someone you love. Yes there are many restrictions on funerals now, in this time of distress and difficulty. You can make the Zoom or other streamed funeral the first of a number of events in which you celebrate the person. Online platforms can actually create a special intimacy. Down the track you can hold an event that does bring people together physically.
- Making a good choice of independent funeral director. If you go on a funeral quote site, take your time. Make sure you have a real conversation with the funeral director. Don’t rush this step of the process.
How to create a love project is about what you want in life and how you want to live. In restricted times it’s a great challenge for families and friends to be separated from someone they love very much when they are ill and dying. Nonetheless thinking about future health care and how to say goodbye in these times may ease the pain to some extent in a time of suffering.